New York governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed $227bn state budget for fiscal year 2024, released last month and required to be approved by 1 April, includes deep cuts to arts funding. Under her budget proposal, funding for the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) would be slashed by more than half, from $109.7m to $48m.
An analysis prepared by the governor’s office chalks up the deep cut to “the expiration of non-recurring appropriations for pandemic recovery assistance”, but some state politicians are calling for a sustained funding boost even as the worst impacts of Covid-19 recede. According to state assemblyman Danny O’Donnell—whose district includes parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem and Morningside Heights, and who chairs the New York Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development—every dollar in arts funding sends $7 into the surrounding community’s economy. He is advocating boosting NYSCA funding to $150m.
“Four years ago when I became chair of this committee, people thought I was crazy,” he recently told Capital Tonight. “But the reality is, where I live, many, many people make their living in the arts. And by spending on the arts, we are actually feeding communities.”
Increasing New York’s state-level arts funding to $150m would put it in the same league as the biggest governmental arts funders in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts (whose 2023 budget was $207m following a $27m boost) and New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs—$155m in 2023, following a $78.1m cut from 2022.
“NYSCA provides the funding that makes it possible for art to be accessible to everyone and for artists to live and work in our city,” state assemblyman Tony Simone, whose district includes parts of Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side, told Hyperallergic. “We should be giving more support to the arts, not less, and my colleagues and I in the Assembly are fighting to keep this important funding in this year’s budget.”